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The spirit arrived at the alter with Bernadette. As soon as she was placed on the alter, a higher spirit shouted loudly. “She is not th...

The spirit arrived at the alter with Bernadette. As soon as she was placed on the alter, a higher spirit shouted loudly. “She is not the one!!! Who brought her here?” The spirit that brought Bernadette looked bemused. I was led to her my lord,” the spirit explained. “You were led to her by the deceptive powder. You are losing your powers, Bikutwala. You are supposed to know deception when you see one. Your business here is done. We cannot touch this woman. Her blood will ruin the sacrifice we are meant to perform today. Take her away,” the higher spirit ordered. Bikutwala carried Bernadette away from the altar. Soon, she found herself on a heap of sand in Kampala. She regained her consciousness. Am I still alive? She wondered. They did not kill me? Oh God, where is Bagamba? Where is Najja? She rose to her feet and began to walk as she sought to decipher where she was. 

“Hold onto the sword my son. At midnight, you will begin to see what ordinary eyes cannot see. Ancient warriors will emerge and the battle of the century will start. Fight like your ancestors. Fear not, for the gods are with us,” Byarugaba encouraged him. “I am not afraid. I am ready to do what it takes to prevent this evil reign,” Bitalo answered. “And you want to do all it takes to keep your beautiful girlfriend,” Byarugaba added jokingly. Bitalo smiled. They sat outside looking at the moon as they counted down to midnight. “We are not alone. The warriors are here with us. When you rub that ointment on your face, you will begin to see.” “Can I rub it now?” “Not yet my child. I will tell you when to apply it.” 

“The wrong woman was brought to the altar earlier this night, Okwayi. You must act fast to bring that daughter of Namono to the altar. If she lives, then, Bitalo will find the strength of Damba to fight us. Ife she lives, Bitalo will claim the land and begin a new rule over us. You must act now!” The spirit of Kamoga ordered. “I will do whatever it takes to kill her. I will bind her and bring her to the altar,” Okwayi promised. “Be fast then. We will soon be doing battle with the Dambas.” “I know what to do.” Okwayi promised. Kamoga’s spirit vanished. Okwayi walked from one end of his compound to another. He was apprehensive. He had sent a message to someone in Kampala and they agreed to show up, but almost an hour after their scheduled meeting time, she was noweher to be seen. “I have to make sure that girl is sacrificed on the alter tonight, otherwise, we may lose this battle. I cannot take chances,” he said out loud to no one in particular. Then, a car parked in front of his compound. He stopped and looked. A young lady walked into his compound. “Are you Onzia?” Okwayi asked. “Yes, I am. You must be Okwayi?” “You are correct. I understand you are a good friend of Najja’s,” Okwayi added. “Yes, I am. I remember seeing you the day you came to leave a message with her about her boyfriend Bitalo.” “You have a good memory. I have work for you. It is something you can execute perfectly.” “What might that be?” “Najja and her father will be in a house in the Muyenga area of Kampala shortly. I want you to go there and lure Najja away. Tell her to take a break from all the stress she has been through. Then, you will bring her to a house in the Nsambya area of Kampala. Once you enter the house, some men will take over from there.” 

“Why should I do that for you? What will happen to Najja afterwards?” Onzia asked. “Stop asking questions as if you really care about Najja. You are in love with Bitalo. We will take care of things and you can have Bitalo to yourself.” “How do you know that I am in love with Bitalo?” “I know a lot about you, Onzia. You have written several love letters to Bitalo that you never mailed out to him. Don’t you want to share those love poems with him? Your heart cries and bleeds each time you see him with your friend Najja. I think this will serve you very well.” “You know about the love letters?” “I also know that you aborted a set of twins last year. Your parents will disown you if they find out about it. You don’t want that either; or do you?” Fear jumped into Onzia’s eyes. She looked slightly ruffled. “Okay, I will do it.” “Good. I knew you could do this. Now, here is the address. Go there and make sure she comes with you. This is the address where you need to take her. Memorize the address and make sure you lure her out as soon as possible. We want her there before midnight.” “I will do my best. You must do it, Onzia.” Okwayi reiterated forcefully. 

Onzia’s heart was pounding as she rode in a chattered taxi to the address in Muyenga. She called Najja but her number was not available. She had not spoken to her in quite a while. She wondered how Najja would feel seeing her at the door. She thought of Bitalo…his adorable smile, his handsome face, and his arms around her. I have to find the strength to get this done, she thought. When she reached at the address, she paid the taxi driver and asked him to stay behind. “I will be back shortly she informed him.” The driver turned off his engine and waited. Onzia’s heart was pounding even faster as she approached the building. The gate was open, so she pushed her way in. At the main entrance she knocked gently. There was no answer, then she knocked harder, and even much harder. Finally, a lady answered the door. “Can I help you?” She asked Onzia. “Yes, I was wondering if Najja was in. I am a friend of hers from university.” Unsuspectingly, Kajuga the wife of Bagamba’s friend Nangila, in whose house they had run for refuge, answered her with a smile on her face. “It has not been long she got here. Let me tell her that you are here. You said your name is Onzia, right?” “Yes.”

“Najja, there is a friend of yours at the door who wants to see you. Her name is Onzia,” Kajuga explained. There was a big surprise on Najja’s face. “How did she find out that we are here?” She asked. “I thought maybe you told her over the phone.” “My phone is dead and I have not spoken to Onzia in some time. She is a good friend of mine, but I still cannot fathom how she got to know that we are here.” Both Najja and Bagamba looked worried. They were suspicious of everything and everyone given what they had been through. “Let me talk to her first,” Bagamba suggested. He walked to the main door, with Nangila behind him. “Hi, I am Najja’s father. We are wondering how you got to know where to find Najja,” Bagamba said politely. Onzia smiled and answered, “Oh, I spend some time with my aunt who lives up the street every now and again. Just a while back I saw you and Najja walk into this compound. I was not sure but I thought it was Najja. We have not seen in while. I knew she was not feeling well, so I was excited to see her I’d love to find out how she is doing now. We all miss her at school.” Onzia maintained a smile on her face while her heart was beating away like the talking drum.

“I see.  I will be right back,” Bagamba replied with a more relaxed look on his face.” “Onzia continued to smile. When Bagamba relayed Onzia’s answer to Najja, she too became relaxed. She walked to the door and hugged Onzia. “I am happy to see you Najja. I am so sorry about your illness. I am glad you are well now. How are things? When are you returning to campus? We all miss you. Sanyu misses you very much.” Onzia looked excited as she spoke. “I am so happy to see you Onzia. I did not know you had a relative around here. It has been a rough time for me. I can’t wait to return to campus too. I miss the good times we all had together. My goodness, it has been weeks now. I was stricken down with a terrible illness…a rather mysterious one. I am thankful to God that I am fine now.” “I am happy you are fine too. Oh! Look at you. You need a break my friend. Why don’t we go to a friend’s house and just relax. You need a break from all this. My friend has a swimming pool. You can take a dip, chill out by the pool and come home to get a deep sleep afterwards. Just unwind,” Onzia suggested subtly. “Quite frankly, that sounds rather exciting to me now, but I am too tired. I have had a rough few days, Onzia.” “That is the more reason you should chill out!!!” Najja thought about it for a moment. “There is a taxi waiting outside. We will be there in just minutes,” Onzia persuaded. “Let me have a quick chat with my dad.” “Okay, you should do that.”

“Are you sure it is safe?” Bagamba asked. “I think so, dad. Besides, anything could still happen anywhere even here.” Bagamba looked a bit concerned. “But I would be here to protect you. There, you’d all by yourself should anything happen.” “You are right papa. Maybe I should stay here,” Najja agreed. “Let the girl go, Bagamba. She is better off hanging out with friends. With everything you told me, she should be with friends relaxing than staying indoors overthinking everything,” Nangila suggested. Bagamba was torn apart. He was visibly worried about letting Najja off his sight. “She will be alright,” Kajuga added. “Okay. Please be careful. Is your phone charged now?” “Let me check.” Najja returned with her phone and confirmed that it was fully charged. “Call me immediately if you spot anything odd. Be observant.” “I will papa.” The girls got into the waiting taxi and headed for Nsambya. Onzia reeled off the address to the taxi driver as he drove off. 

When they reached the address, both girls got out and walked towards the house after Onzia had paid the driver. It was a quiet and secluded street. Without looking, Onzia knocked on the gate on the opposite side of the street. The house she intended to take Najja to was on the other side of the road. A man came out and she tried to talk her way in with the belief that they were waiting for her. “Hi, we are here to see Daniel. This is my good friend, Najja,” she said smiling. The man at the gate looked perplexed. He looked at her and then at Najja. I own this house, there is no one called Daniel here,” he replied with a frown on his face. “Are you sure? I have been here before. Daniel is expecting me. I am here with my friend to relax in his pool.” “You young girls of these days you have all lost your minds. I don’t have a pool. There is no Daniel here. Please stop disturbing me. My wife and I are having an argument and the last thing I need tonight is for a lost young woman to come and add insult to my injury.” The man shot the gate and receded into the compound. 

“You are sure you have been here before?” Najja asked. “I have no idea what is wrong with that man…of course I have.” “What is the number of the building?” “112.” “That is the building across the street,” Najja pointed out. “Oh!! I should have looked. I forgot,” Onzia said managing a feeble smile. Najja became concerned. Both buildings had nothing in common. One had a black gate and the other a red one. One was a bungalow and the other was a two storey building. One had a low fence, while the other had a high fence. Besides, the colors of the walls were entirely different. Najja suddenly became concerned. Onzia is such an intelligent person. How could she mistake both buildings? She was arguing with that man as though she knew what she was looking for. What is going on?

Onzia began to cross the street expecting Najja to follow her. “Onzia, what is going on?” “What do you mean?” “The first time you were here, you did not realize it was a two storey building?” “I was not even looking,” Onzia lied. She tried to smile, but Najja was concerned. Something seemed off. “I am afraid, I don’t feel like going there,” she said. “Come on Najja. It was only a mistake. I was not even paying attention. We will have a lot of fun. Come with me.” “You should go alone. I am heading down the road to find a taxi home.” Najja began to walk away from the building. Afraid that she was failing, Onzia rushed to the gate and banged on it. Najja increased her pace further away from the house. She looked back every few seconds as she walked. A man opened the gate and Onzia said hurriedly, “She is walking away. She became suspicious. She is leaving. Najja is walking away,” she said, pointing. “The man called to his group and they ran after her. Najja saw hefty men running in her direction. Her heart began to beat faster. She called her father as she took to her heels. She swerved to her right, yelling into the phone. “They are coming after me papa. Onzia is one of them,” she shouted. Bagamba kicked himself for letting her go. He jumped into the car with Nangila and they sped off. “I am coming sweetheart. Keep running. Don’t stop!!!” He shouted. 

Najja looked back. The men were fast. They were quickly closing the gap. She increased her pace, but they seemed to run even faster. Realizing that she could not outrun them, she took a quick left turn and dove into a hedge of flowers. She turned off her phone in case her father called back. Her heart was beating fiercely, hammering heavily against her poor ribs. She could hear the pounding of her heart. She worried that her assailants could hear it too. “Where is she?” One of them asked. “I don’t know,” answered another. There were five of them. “You go up the street, while you go right and you; go left. Irumba and I will check this area,” one of them read out orders. The last two began to wade through the hedge of flowers, carefully looking in-between rows for any sign of Najja. She huddled at the base of a shrub and said a prayer. Tears ran down her face as she heard them searching. They were getting closer. She could not move. They were too close and too fast. Any movement from her would certainly give her away. Her heart hammered even faster like the engine of a train shunting into life.    STORY CONTINUES...

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